The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.Putting Saddam on trial was always going to be hard; the more internationally-legitimate tribunal at The Hague for Slobodan Milosevic lasted four years, and was as much a debacle as the Hussein "trial", ending only because the former dictator died. Obviously, though, there is no a way a fair trial could have taken place in Iraq, and the fact that they're still debating whether the execution should be televised is an indication that only the names of the rulers have changed.
These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'
Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.
Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
December 29, 2006
After an embarassingly shabby show trial, Saddam Hussein may go to meet his maker on the morrow, and Josh Marshall has a good overview as to what it signifies: